by Thinus Ferreira
After eMedia and BBC Studios Africa announced in late September that it would be adding the BBC UKTV channel to the Openview satellite service - which then failed to happen - MultiChoice and BBC Studios Africa are now adding the BBC UKTV channel to the DStv satellite service from 15 December in a bizarre channel carriage switcheroo.
To prevent complaints about repeats from DStv subscribers on more expensive and higher-tiered packages like DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact, MultiChoice is only making BBC UKTV available to the lower-tiered packages.
Subscribers of DStv Family, DStv Access and DStv Easy View will now see UKTV from 15 December on DStv channel 134. UKTV will be carrying rerun content that already featured on existing DStv channels like BBC Brit and BBC Lifestyle in the past.
While the BBC content windowing on BBC UKTV will be new for the lower-tiered DStv viewers, it would be repeat viewing for other DStv subscribers who already saw it when it was first-run shows and who are not missing out on content.
BBC UKTV will be the 6th BBC channel carried on DStv after BBC Brit, BBC Earth, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies and BBC World News, and will offer lower-tiered DStv subscribers access to natural history series, British soaps and children's programming they haven't seen before.
"We have strengthened our partnerships, which has in turn strengthened our content offering, therefore, we are extremely excited to introduce BBC UKTV to our viewers," says Georginah Machiridza, MultiChoice's head of general entertainment channels.
"As Africa's most loved storyteller we are always looking to offer top entertainment to our DStv customers and the launch of this channel aims to do just that."
The addition of BBC UKTV to MultiChoice's DStv and its failure to materialise on eMedia's Openview is an embarrassing situation for eMedia, which didn't want to tell the media beforehand that the channel would no longer make its debut in October and was abruptly scuppered together with a media launch event that was planned for Johannesburg media.
BBC Studios Africa was asked in a media query why the BBC UKTV channel has now suddenly switched from the announced Openview platform of eMedia to MultiChoice's DStv platform but through its Atmosphere PR agency the broadcaster didn't want to answer the specific question.
BBC Studios Africa was also asked if the BBC's plan was to have BBC UKTV on both eMedia and DStv and if that is still the plan, or if UKTV will no longer be coming to Openview. Atmosphere also didn't give an answer to this question, with the BBC just saying that it can't provide any more information" about the issue.
In a general response Atmosphere says that "BBC UKTV has been specially created for a wide audience to enjoy the BBC's award-winning catalogue".
"DStv Easy View enables new audiences to watch the rich catalogue of inspiring content, across multiple genres on one destination. We are disappointed that BBC UKTV did not launch on Openview as planned. We are not in a position provide any more information at this time in relation to Openview specifically but are keen going forward that BBC UKTV reaches as many viewers as possible."
ALSO READ: eMedia's Openview adds BBC Studios' BBC UKTV as a British free-to-air TV channel in South Africa.